After a heart-breaking loss in New England, the Jets reacted by benching quarterback Zach Wilson. Attention turns to Mike White, who will get a chance to beat the 3-8 Bears and get the Jets back in the thick of the postseason mix. Chicago has won five in a row over the Jets, with New York’s last win over them being all the way back in 2000. In this game, however, the Jets are 6 point favorites in this game per DraftKings Sportsbook.
This game was setting up to be a battle between two second-year quarterbacks, but with Wilson benched, Justin Fields’ status is also uncertain. Having suffered a separated shoulder in the last game, Fields is listed as questionable and will be a game-time decision. He did practice on a limited basis all week, though.
Fields has made some highlight reel plays this year, and leads the Bears with 834 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. He’s still a work in progress as a passer, though, having completed less than 60 percent of his passes. He’s also leading the league in fumbles.
If Fields can’t go, then ex-Jet Trevor Siemian will be the starter. He’s only thrown one pass this year and has lost his last five starts, including one in his lone season with the Jets.
Chicago has been saying that they’ll delay the decision on Fields until right before kick off, so they’ll presumably have to elevate Nathan Peterman from the practice squad for cover.
In 2021, the Bears were fortunate enough to have all three interior linemen - center Sam Mustipher, left guard Cody Whitehair and right guard James Daniels - play every single snap. This year, they’ve had to deal with multiple changes.
Daniels departed in free agency, to be replaced at right guard by Teven Jenkins, and all three interior linemen have missed time. Reserve Michael Schofield started at right guard last week, as Jenkins has been dealing with a hip injury. Lucas Patrick has also made five starts at three different positions, but he’s now on injured reserve.
At left tackle, fifth round rookie Braxton Jones leads the team in offensive snaps and has been solid, but does lead them in pressure surrendered and has also given up five sacks and been called for six penalties.
The right tackle is listed as Larry Borom, who has given up three sacks on the year. However, veteran Riley Reiff started the most recent game.
Rookie Ja’Tyre Carter, reserve center Dieter Eiselsen and former Raiders first round pick Alex Leatherwood round out the bench but haven’t made any real contributions so far.
Although Fields is their leading rusher, the Bears have a productive running game even if you ignore his contributions. Khalil Herbert had racked up 643 yards before landing on injured reserve and David Montgomery has over 500 yards now that he’s back in the number one role. Montgomery had over a thousand yards from scrimmage in 2021.
Sixth round rookie Trestan Ebner is the backup at the moment but his career is off to a slow start as he has just 54 rushing yards on 24 carries. Khari Blasingame is the fullback. He has exclusively been employed as a blocker this year.
The Bears’ best receiver is Darnell Mooney, who had a thousand-yard season in 2021 and leads the Bears again with 40 catches. Otherwise, they have a receiver group with plenty of experience but not much production so far this year.
Equanimeous St. Brown is listed as the other starter and he’s caught 13 passes. He’s also rushed five times for 53 yards, which is something Chicago does effectively with all their receivers.
Dante Pettis got off to a good start with a 51-yard touchdown in the opener, but he’s only got 12 catches in total. Byron Pringle and N’Keal Harry have just seven catches between them and the recent trade acquisition Chase Claypool only has six touches in his first three games with the team.
Rookie Velus Jones doesn’t play much but has some playmaking ability with the ball in his hands. He could be the team’s biggest jet sweep threat.
At tight end, Cole Kmet is a decent weapon. He has 26 catches and a team-high five touchdown catches. His backups are both former Jets as Ryan Griffin and Trevon Wesco have just four catches between them.
No Chicago defensive lineman has more than two sacks this year and the group took a hit when Robert Quinn - who was coming off a pro bowl season with 18.5 sacks - was traded to the Eagles. Their best pass rusher is probably Trevis Gipson, who had seven sacks last year and leads the team with eight quarterback hits, which is twice as many as anyone else.
Defensive tackle Justin Jones is probably the team’s best run stopper. He is tied for the team lead with eight tackles for loss.
The other starters are Al-Quadin Muhammad at defensive end and Armon Watts inside. The reserves inside are Angelo Blackson and ex-Jet Mike Pennel. Taco Charlton and fifth round rookie Dominique Robinson back up on the edge.
The Bears also traded away their best linebacker (and leading tackler) when Roquan Smith was sent to the Ravens. Nicholas Morrow now anchors this unit and plays an every-down role. He is tied for the team lead with eight tackles for loss.
Jack Sanborn plays most of the defensive snaps alongside Morrow, but the other starter, Joe Thomas, only plays a part-time role. Sanborn has two sacks.
Undrafted rookie Sterling Weatherford has been ruled out with a concussion so Matthew Adams is the only healthy reserve on the roster. They’ll be shorthanded at this position but may not be able to elevate a linebacker to the roster if they need those two spots for a quarterback and a defensive back.
The Bears have an issue in the secondary this week as two of their starters, cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker, have been ruled out. The pair of rookies have each been dealing with a concussion. Although this will force the Bears into changes, Gordon had given up the most catches and yards of any cornerback in the NFL this year in coverage and Brisker leads the Bears in missed tackles.
Safety Eddie Jackson, who is in the first year of a four-year, $58 million contract, is the star of the Bears secondary. He leads the team with four interceptions and also leads them in forced fumbles and passes defensed.
The other starter at cornerback is Jaylon Johnson with Kindle Vildor also seeing a lot of action as the nickelback. Out of all the Bears players that will be active on Sunday, Vildor is the only one apart from Jackson with an interception this year.
Safety DeAndre Houston-Carson and undrafted rookie cornerback Jaylon Jones both saw some action last week, so are the main candidates to start for Brisker and Gordon.
The other options at safety are Dane Cruikshank and seventh round rookie Elijah Hicks. At cornerback, Justin Lane, undrafted rookie Josh Blackwell and ex-Jet Lamar Jackson could be asked to step up.
Yet another ex-Jet, Cairo Santos, is the Bears’ kicker and he didn’t miss his first field goal of the season until Sunday. However, he had missed three extra points including an important one that led to a one-point loss to Detroit. He did make a game-winner against the Texans though.
The Bears drafted their punter Trenton Gill in the seventh round this year. He’s had mixed results this season and had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown against Miami.
At the moment, Dante Pettis is the Bears’ punt returner and Velus Jones handles kickoffs. Jones, who had a season-long 55-yarder last week, has also handled some punts. Ebner is another option to return kickoffs.
In coverage, Blackwell, Houston-Carson and Jaylon Jones have been productive in coverage, but the Bears gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown to the Falcons on Sunday.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.